The truth is I started with “15 things every youth athlete should know.” But none of us are going to remember all 15, so to the cutting room floor I went and this is what remained.
(1) There are a lot of things you cannot control throughout your athletic career. Your attitude and effort are never one of them. You not only have the ability, you have the responsibility to control these things.
(2) Athletic development is a complicated topic, so keep working to be the best you. It is important to realize that the developmental time period is a crazy one. Some kids grow faster than others. Some pick up new movements/skills faster than others. Some appear to just flat out be better than others. None of these things, however, are predictive of FUTURE success. In other words, whether you’re the best or worse U-12 athlete has almost no indication of whether you’ll be the best or worst U -18 athlete in that sport. Wasn’t Michael Jordon cut from his high school basketball team?
(3) “It’s okay to be tired. It’s not okay to look tired.” Controlling your body language can go a long way in how you’re interpreted by your coaches and by your opponents. Regardless of how tired you feel, carry yourself like you’re ready for more.
(4) A little different from the previous four, it’s important that youth athletes understand the importance of eating REAL food. Real food can be hunted or grown. Typically, real food goes bad if you don’t freeze it or eat it within a week or so of buying it. Broadly this includes things like meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. It’s funny to me when I hear youth athletes say things like “I don’t like vegetables”… or even more insane, “I don’t like water.” As if these things are optional! Your body is literally made of the nutrients you provide it. The food you take in provides the building blocks for every structure and process within your body. You don’t need the next protein shake, protein bar or energy drink, the truth is you need REAL food.
Now, go do that thing you do so well. Life is a sport, play hard, we’ll be here if you get injured or want to work towards doing it better.